I am a judgmental person. There, I said it. I am particularly snooty when it comes to parenting. Think it's okay to spray tan your child? I will judge you. Let your 3-year-old drink Red Bull? Judging. Don't care if your kid is rude or disrespectful or a bully? Oh yeah, I'm thinking some things.
And because karma's hilarious, yesterday some biddy in the elevator decided to school me in the ways of proper parenting.
It did not go well.
Let me state for the record that it was not my best parenting moment. We were waiting for the elevator after school when Owen suddenly dropped to the floor and started yelling, "I HAVE TO POOOOOOOP!"
Poop! No problem! I can handle this! School is right down the hall. Let's go poop.
"No! I don't want to poop at school!"
Look, it's right down the hall -
"NO! I don't want to poop at school! I want to poop at home!"
Well, the elevators aren't here. Just come with me and -
"NOOOOO! I won't go! I won't go!"
Owen, come ON.
We have now reached the point in the story where you readers without children are thinking, "Woman, please. Just take the kid to the bathroom!" and those of you with kids are thinking, "Wow... you are screwed." Because here's the thing: It is impossible to make an unwilling child take a poop.
Don't believe me? Go ahead. Give it a go.
No, really - go ahead. I'll wait.
Seriously, it can't be done. If I had dragged him down the hall by the arm (which is exactly how that would have played out) I would have ended up with a hysterical, furious 4-year-old - and a poop-free potty.
So I did the next best option: I gave him two choices.
"Look, you can either go back to school and go to the potty, or you can hold it until we get upstairs."
"I have to POOP!"
"Okay! Great! Let's go to school."
"Okay, then you'll have to hold it. Those are your only options."
"Then let's go to SCHOOL. NOW. You only have two choices."
That's when I heard it.
"Don't you get a choice?"
She was standing there in her expensive gym clothes, her voice all faux-sincere. She was one of those could-have-been-40, could-have-been-70 women I usually see on the Upper East Side - the face pulled a little too tight, the lips a little too large, the skin all shiny and weird. I should have known what was coming...
"Excuse me, but don't you get a choice in where he goes to the bathroom? I've been standing here and I've heard all these parents let their children have all these choices and it makes absolutely no sense to me."
I should have gone ahead and popped her in the mouth right there, but Owen was still boneless on the ground and I was trying to be a good role model, I just gave her an non-committal grunt and went back to the task at hand.
"When I was a child," she continued, "mommy and daddy told me what to do, and children felt much more secure because mommy and daddy were making the rules. Wouldn't you like mommy and daddy to make the rules?"
Okay, THIS is where I should have popped her in the mouth. I don't care what the situation is - you do not, not, not address a stranger's child. And you certainly do not ask a stranger's child whether or not they agree with your parenting choices.
"When I was a child, my parents made the rules and we listened. And we were much happier."
At this point we were in the elevator together. I don't think I'm putting to fine a point on it to say that things were tense. The other riders were very, very focused on their shoes. Owen was totally silent.
"Like I said - you raise your child the way you want, and I'll raise my child the way I want."
And then she said it.
"It's parents like you who are ruining this generation of children."
So here's what I didn't say to her:
No, wait. I just checked with my husband and he said that they were too horrible to print, even on this blog. Suffice it to say that I did not make any cracks about her face, even though I really, really wanted to.
And yes, Owen made it to the potty just fine.